Food Journal 11 - Kid Food and Adult Food in Greece - a focus on veggies!

Most of my time in Greece (outside of class activities) was spent with my family. I have five second cousins in Athens, ages 5 to 10, and being with them gave me a glimpse of family life and eating practices. I noticed that my little cousins almost always eat the same foods as their parents during a meal, especially at home. My aunts did not cook any “kid meals” separate from the dishes cooked for everyone else.  Children ate bean stews, tomato and cucumber salad, fish, and spinach pies. They didn’t shy away from vegetables, which I thought was awesome because it is so different from the popular idea that one of parents’ greatest struggles is getting their kids to eat vegetables. 

My cousins have their favorite foods, of course, like keftedakia (meat balls), koulourakia, pizza, yogurt with fruit or as tzatziki sauce, and mini ice cream bars. However, these foods do not separate them from the adults at meal time. Keftedakia are eaten by everyone as one of the main dishes at a meal, koulourakia are a common breakfast and snack cookie, my great aunt makes homemade pizza, yogurt is beloved in Greece in a variety of ways, and the adults eat small scoops of ice cream while the kids eat theirs off little popsicle sticks. While children are guided by their parents to have a decently well rounded meal, I did not notice too much of a struggle going on between kids and adults at mealtime. My little cousins enjoyed a variety of the foods presented to them, both in their own homes and at their grandparents’ house, so filling their plates at meals was not difficult. 

I think that there are three main reasons for the absence of conflict between “kid food” and “adult food” with my family in Greece. First, the kids are accustomed to all the same tastes as adults - they have been munching cucumber since their tiny teeth allowed, while spinach pies and tomato-based stews have been at the table since before they can remember - so none of the major food groups (like vegetables) seem foreign or gross. I am not saying that every Greek kid likes every vegetable, only that the diet in Greece is very well-rounded and kids seem to be comfortable eating at least some things from every food group. Secondly, when mothers and grandmothers prepare the food, they take the kids’ tastes into account, using or leaving out spices to make nutritious foods friendly for everyone. Garlic is not well-loved in my family, especially by children, so it is left out of tzatziki sauce. This means that the yogurt and cucumber are accessible and appetizing to the children, instead of them being turned off from the whole dish (which is nutritious!) by the presence of one strong flavor. On the other hand, a little bit of salt is added to cucumber and tomato salad, working alongside olive oil to make these raw veggies even more delicious. The third reason is that kids are given a high enough degree of choice in their eating that they don’t feel the need to rebel against the foods their parents offer them. They can eat one meat ball, no bread, and five servings of salad, or five meatballs and half a dozen tomato slices, without being yelled at or cut off from one food. Because they have a high degree of choice, they feel comfortable exercising it, and end up choosing a variety of food items during the meal. Since the foods available are nutritious and familiar, the kids’ choices based on taste ultimately result in a healthy meal that is appreciated by them AND their parents. 

***Photos taken by my 7 year old cousin during one

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Sunday lunch***

Week Two: Shopping, People, Island and Demonstrations

Wow..I can not believe week two is done and I’m entering week three! Unbelievable how quickly time is flying already.

Classes have started and are already in full swing! The professors are amazing and it is definitely different from the classes at Houghton! Maybe it’s just the subject matter that I’m not used to; but nonetheless I’m enjoying. Greek class is something! Two hours is a little rough for me, I feel very mentally drained at the end…But what can ya do?!

The rest of the week was filled with little trips to cafes, baklava of course, gyros, and lots of homework! On Friday, two of my roommates and I went to Syntagma to do a little shopping then sat and had lunch at a nice little cafe in Psirri. I got some DELICIOUS bruschetta! Later on after some dinner and a little siesta we ventured out for the first time! We went to a local “rock bar.” They play awesome classic rock, the bartender was veryyyyy nice asking us all about how we enjoyed Greece, what we studied, our names, etc. Although it wasn’t a late night it was a fun one!

Saturday brought an early rising for the day trip to the island of Aegina. After metro and ferry we finally arrived around 1230 and went straight to the Temple of Aphaia. The site was beautiful and the temple was really cool but the wind on the hill was VERY cold! This was followed of course by lunch at a taverna! Then some wandering around until we could no longer bear the cold and just had to sit in a cafe with a warm drink! I’ve learned that I do indeed get a little sea sick, so medicine IS MY FRIEND! On our way back, it was early evening and again we had to take the ferry back and the metro. 

Let me give a little background information about Greece. Here, it is perfectly normal and at least weekly occurance to see a demonstration. This is usually some political group or private group/organization that is disgruntled about something that Parliament has done. (There is much right now as Greece is an economic crisis) and they will march to Parliament, hold signs, maybe chant but that is usually the end of it. Eventually the area is cleared and all is well. There are on rare occasions however, opposing groups that will cause more than this. And this was what we ran into on our way back,

Now I was never in an danger, but boy for a good 2 minutes things were a little crazy! All I will say is the scheduled demonstrations went a little off course, and got a bit out of hand. Demonstrators trying to flea the police ran into the metro station just as we were switching lines (faces covered with scarves and gas masks mind you) and yelling. Now what do you do when masked young men are running and yelling at you in a foreign language as they proceed to close the metro station doors? As the Greeks did as well; we ran. 

Why were their faces covered? to avoid the effects of tear gas which is a common method used by the police for clearing the crowd. looking back it was somewhat comical but it definitely woke us up from our tiring day and we had some well deserved treats when we got home!

But what I’ve noticed about Greece, everywhere I’ve gone is there is a sense of pride. So much so that Greeks go out of their way it seems to make sure I like it here and I too can find the pride in Greece. The economic crisis has had a huge effect, just as the U.S. has struggled. But the youth here are in unrest at the lack of jobs for them…I think unemployment is upward toward 30% (don’t quote me on that) But even as we spoke to our taxi driver, Mary, in Aegina and she told us how her University Degree in Economics wasn’t even enough to keep a job at the Port Authority. She shared with us that it was okay, her brother owned a taxi and she helped him with that; but she did not put down Greece. She was not beaten. Mary was still happy despite the hard times. 

I’m really beginning to see some of the differences from American culture and know that I will continue to find a great appreciation for the Greek way.

Food Journal 14 - Conviviality and Payment

After thirteen food journals, what I’m about to tell you is nothing new:  one of the most important aspects of eating and drinking in Greece is that it brings people together. Conviviality is the keystone in any discussion about food’s role in social relations. Today’s journal entry is about the intersection of conviviality and money. Going out to eat with friends, classmates, and family, I realized something. While eating together shows group solidarity, paying for the food says something about group bonds as well. In Greek culture, it is common that a group of equals/peers will split bills for coffee or meals. This is because of an underlying cultural idea that being overly preoccupied with paying for food and drinks shows a lack of hospitality and a lower prioritization of the importance of company. My aunts and uncles and their close friends go out for coffee often, and the “payment plan” is this:  each time, a different person pays the bill. It usually rotates from family to family, with the husbands paying if they’re along. Since these people go out together often, and a different person usually pays each time, the unspoken idea is that the cost will basically end up even. Also, since the core of the group is of the same age-set, the idea of seniority (older members of the group feel responsibility or obligation to pick up the bill) does not factor in. When I went out to one night with one of my university friends who was in Athens for an internship at the U.S. Embassy, he paid for our dinner in Monastiraki, then I bought us coffee in Syntagma. Rather than splitting both bills down the middle, a practice I am used to when going out with friends in the States, we found a way to “even things out” in a way that didn’t cause a financial separation in the midst of social/culinary togetherness. On another occasion, I noticed a higher preoccupation with exact separation of the bill and individual payment among my CYA peers. We were eating at a taverna one afternoon in Koroni, and we had all ordered individual dinners, with about a three-euro variance in price. My suggestion of splitting the total bill five ways among us was dismissed – even thought it was simpler and took less calculation – in favor of lots of finagling in order to allow each person to pay no more or less than the cost of their own meal. Since this involved an in-depth discussion of the price of each person’s meal, and the Euros everyone had available in cash, I doubt that it would have happened with a group of Greeks. These three experiences – coffee with aunts and uncles, dinner and coffee with a fellow Greek-American, and lunch with classmates – brought into relief the various cultural ideals and social settings that contribute to how money and food interact. In a situation with a group of Greek peers who regularly go out for coffee together, rotating the bill among them is a simple and comfortable way to balance payment. For a pair of Greek-American friends who are only going out on one occasion, an adequate balance is reached by one paying for dinner and the other for coffee. Among a larger group of U.S. classmates, the balance must be reached through more exact discussion and deliberation, which is not as stigmatized as in Greek culture. 

(Picture:  photo collage of my views from Public Cafe in Syntagma Square - Parliament building and my friend pretending to be busy with Embassy business)

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Catching up: The Peloponnese

Oops…it’s been FOREVER since I’ve updated this, even though I keep trying to remind myself to do it. I’ll do a sort of quick recap from our trip last week to the Peloponnese (!!!):

Driving throughout the countryside of Greece was magical, as to be expected.It was extremely mountainous, and we luckily had a lot of great weather. The first stop was Nafplio, the third largest city in Greece and is located right on the water. It is the most beautiful town, similar to what I thought Santorini would look like, but a lot more colorful. On the first day we hiked up to the Palamidi Fortress, which was easily one of the most breathtaking views I have EVER seen. The sea was surrounded by high mountains in a 360 degree view…unreal. It certainly didn’t hurt that the best gelato I’ve ever had was located in the town too…I’d be lying if I said we only made one stop :) We also decided that we would dedicate the week to finding the best gyros in the Peloponnese, and needless to say I’ve definitely had enough pitas to last me a lifetime. Read on to find out where I found mine…

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Spring Break Travels

Well, the semester is reaching it’s end, and a week sooner for me than the rest of my classmates! I unfortunately have a class at my home school to take so I must be back sooner! But I was glad to do a lot of traveling for spring break to see some of the famous islands that people often think of when they picture Greece!

We made our way down to Santorini on a 6am flight! While there we visited Kamari, a black sand beach, Perissa, a white sand beach and the Red Sand Beach in Akrotiri. We rented 4 wheelers to get around the island, we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore! My friends enjoy Greek wine so we went to Santo Winery and did a wine tasting…18 of them! I sipped my tiny bird sips for most of them and that was more than enough to get a headache! We visited the archaeological site of Akrotiri and the Volcano/ Hot Springs! We even jumped off the boat and swam into the hot springs. On our last night there we visited Oia, and the sun even poked through the clouds enough to give us a beautiful sunset!

Our ship to the Volcano!

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Oia!

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Red Sand Beach

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From there we took a ferry to Naxos. We arrived and made our way to the port for the sunset. After a cheap and delicious taverna dinner, we hit the hay for the following day. In the morning we got breakfast, explored the old market, followed up with a gyro for a snack! Two of my friends decided to go Horseback Riding on the beach..well after a little mishap with that we spent the rest of the night in the hospital, and the following day keeping our very sore friend in bed and resting. It was quite rainy but we were very disappointed to have missed some the big Kouros statues. 

Sanctuary of Apollo

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Last but not least, we left for Mykonos on Good Friday. We saw the beautiful windmills while we were there, we got to experience their Easter celebration which consisted of many fire crackers, candles and some delicious roast lamb. Our last view days were spent shopping, relaxing, eating and enjoying the sun. We visited Paradise Beach and got one last day of tanning in. By the time Monday came, we were elated to be back in Athens..we had come home!

Paradise Beach!

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Windmills :)

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So as my semester abroad is coming to a close, I’m exhausted and trying to reflect on all of the places that I’ve seen. I’d like to come up with some sort of all encompassing sentence that could sum up how I feel about my time here, but I’m not sure I can. It’s been fun, challenging, eye opening, scary, exciting, but most of all it has grown me. As I continue to get older I begin to really carve out the details of who I am and this has helped me further that. 

So in 17 days, I will give my final thoughts, I will say my goodbyes to everything I’ve come to know and love. But for now I will relish in my time left in Athens. For now I will eat until I pop to soak in the yummy Greek cuisine, I will experience as much of this culture. So I will say see you later, and on May 9th, as I fly out at 6am, I will give my farewells. 

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Temple of Aphaia, Aegina, Greece



“What is a hipster?” The question has been posed and answered time and time again, but as an N+1 symposium on the topic averred, “All descriptions of hipsters are doomed to disappoint.” Even so, everyone has the image of a hipster in their head: large sunglasses, stylized haircuts, old-timey barbs, skinny jeans, pastel shirts. Sure, that’s reductive and it doesn’t necessarily encompass the entire demographic, but you know you know someone (or several people) who fit the bill.

So does photographer Léo Caillard. He photographed hip Parisians in trendy garb, and mapped their clothes onto nude Hellenic sculptures taken from the Louvre. The result? “Hipsters in stone.”

The series of doctored photographs imagines the ancient Greeks as they might appear in an Urban Outfitters catalog. Caillard drapes the marble persons in fitted flannel shirts, slim slacks, and denim. He frames their finely wrought mugs with pairs of Ray-Bans that accentuate their apathetic gaze. The full beards and wispy mustaches complete the look.



Caillard, whose portfolio consists of digitized portraits, says he thought of the idea during his bimonthly walks through the Louvre. “I was looking at all the Greek sculptures and thinking it would be quite fun and interesting to dress them,” he tells Co.Design. He wondered what clothing would add to the figures, and how contemporary fashion could alter their dispositions.

The sculptures were shot in-situ at the museum, before Caillard set out on a casting call around Paris looking for models who matched the proportions and physique of the artworks. The live models were then photographed in Caillard’s studio wearing typical hipster costumes. Using Photoshop, he transposed the clothes onto the statues, adjusting for lighting and shadow. The digital wizardry makes the sculptures pop like they never have before.

As for his own definition of what the hipster is or “means,” Caillard is vague. He says that the concept of the hipster is “the complete opposite of an iconic Greek statue from the past,” but stops short of explaining how. (Admittedly, the differences should be apparent.) For him, “it’s the mix of the two concepts, very far from each other, that I find pretty interesting.”

It is May 1st today and Greece is celebrating Spring. The custom of Protomagia (May 1st) has its roots in ancient Greece and it celebrates Spring and nature with a flower festival.

Maios (May) the last month of Spring took its name from the Goddess Maja, a goddess who took her name from the ancient word Maia, the nurse and mother. May, according to Greek folklore, has two meanings: The good and the bad, rebirth and death. The custom celebrates the final victory of the summer against winter as the victory of the life against death go back at the ancient years and accumulated at the first day of May. This day was also dedicated to the goddess of agriculture Dimitra and her daughter Persephone, who this day emerges from the under world and comes to earth. Her coming to earth from Hades marks the blooming of nature and the birth of summer.

Another ancient celebration that Protomagia has its roots is Anthestiria, a celebration in honor of Dionysos (the Greek God of theater and parties) a festival of souls, plants and flowers, celebrating the rebirth of man and nature.

The custom of May 1st is to decorate the doors of houses with flower wreaths in a way to welcome the power of nature into our home. The wreath is made ​​from various flowers, handpicked and knitted together. In some parts of Asia Minor, people put on each wreath, except flowers, a garlic for the evil eye, a thorn to protect the house from enemies and an ear for good harvest. The wreaths adorn the doors of the houses until the day of St. John the Harvester (June 24) when all the wreaths of the neighborhood are gathered and burnt in a big fire, the fire of the saint.

Today is the day we celebrate nature’s beauty and its freshness. Cut flowers from the fields and weave a colorful wreath, hang it outside your house door and welcome the power of nature and its blessing inside your home.

Text source from “Greek Weddings and Traditions" blog

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